Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder Review: Westcott vs Wallace

December 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE HOARDER: Wednesday 21st December, C4, 9pm

Richard Wallace lives in one of the leafiest and most picturesque parts of Surrey. It is a setting so pristine that even the tiniest of weeds is plucked before it can even consider peeking its head out of the ground, lest it scuppers the counties ‘in bloom’ competition chances. How ironic then, that Richard himself is ‘one of the country’s most extreme hoarders’, a man whose house is quite literally filled to the brim with rubbish.

Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder is a documentary taking a look inside Richard’s home, a place in which he admits to merely ‘existing’ as a result of the hoarding that has over a period of thirty years, steadily taken over his life. Last summer things came to a head in Westcott Village when the council ordered him to clear the mounting mess overflowing from his property. In a brave act perhaps uncharacteristic for a man whose appearance and manner reflects his reclusive life, he challenged the order and took the decision to represent himself in court. Miraculously and much to the disgust of the village’s residents, Richard won. However since then the situation has become progressively worse and the details of his day-to-day life have escalated to unbelievable proportions; it takes him approximately forty minutes to travel from his front door to the chair in which he eats, sleeps and works; and he lives off just one basic meal a day due to the hassle it takes to prepare (more calories than the meal itself consists of, he insightfully adds).

The open mouths of the firemen who undertake a ‘home safety visit’ indicate the shocking situation that Richard has gotten into.

Despite the village’s obvious animosity towards him, it soon becomes clear that Richard is a harmless man who is simply in dire need of help. It is impossible not to feel sorry for him as the surrounding obsession with ‘picture perfect’ Surrey life only serves to emphasise and increase his isolation. It is this fact which is noticed by Andy Honey (a real person I assure you, not a Roald Dahl character…), a local gardener whose kind and sweet manner does indeed reflect his name. It is with his help and encouragement that Richard gradually comes to the conclusion that things must change.

This ‘Cutting Edge’ documentary makes for a fascinating look at a particularly severe case of hoarding; said to be just one of the debilitating symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, as well as a result of other mental and emotional problems. Even as Richard progresses in his quest to get rid of the rubbish, he is continually in denial that his situation stems from a psychological condition. As the realisation dawns and a growing integration back into the community continues, you will be willing him on to achieve what many people (in Westcott Village certainly) thought was the impossible.


missE says:

right! i live in this village and have done my whole life. I cannot stand how this programme has made our village look. They have only chosen to show the “posh” people of the village. There are far much more down to earth people, working class normal families who live here. THE BLOODY GARDEN AND FLOWER COMMITTEE! makes me angry, going on about how it makes the village look bad, so what! there are normal people who live here, who would say just leave him alone, if he wants to live that way let him. ok it inst normal and isnt pleasant to see someone living this way, but at the end of the day if hes happy, and he owns his home and wants to live this way let him, who are the council or other people to tell him what to do. Me as a working class individual whos family is from this lovely English village feel they should of had opinions from other members of the community, people who have gown up here, families who have grown up here,and nothing against the “posher” people, but the way they came across was just no nice, very stuck up and to be honest total snobs. I dont like to judge but im sure that’s how it made the whole village look!

Carla says:

Watched to documentary, it was quite disturbing seeing the utter snobbery of the residents fussing and fa*rting about the village in bloom contest, all the while picking on a vulnerable man without even trying to get to know him! Thank heavens there was the one friend he did have, the young chap, which with his kindness, got through to the man the actual extent of his pointless hoarding.

jon says:

andy the gatdener top bloke nice to see the community helping richard i wonder if he collects the sunday sport definately keep them rich ill find some storage

trixie says:


Julie Wilson says:

Andy Honey has to be recommended for a Human Kindness medal of honor (or something along those lines …. there must be something?) What a wonderful world we would live in if there were more like him. He was Pro-Active and got things done quickly in the kindest way and certainly had more compassion and understanding than the so called Counsellor.

Lynne turner says:

Having just watched the rerun of this programme, I have experienced every emotion imaginable. Anger at the ‘community’ that cared more for flowers and a pristine presentation than for a fellow human being, panic when the chanel through the house was disturbed during a fire inspection, horror at the dismissive attitude of a healthcare ‘professional’ whose only input was to organise a safety inspection (hang your head in shame), sadness at the predicament that Richard Wallace found himself in and then tears of total joy at the friendship offered by Andy Honey and his genuine hardworking group of neighbours.

The long journey back to a tolerable life for Richard is now underway and with the love and support of those who are helping him, he has every chance of a much happier future. This story of how one man with no professional training can impact on a life and ultimately change the attitude of so many with a random act of kindness is truly inspirational. Andy Honey…you are a gem!

stephredman says:

Thank you, Andy. Compassion <3

tam fulton says:

Andy Honey, deserves a medal !

paul says:

a few good people in a whole community the rest should hang their snooty stuck up heads in shame you sicken me to be british including the clergy you people are from the ice age and i would bet you still beleive in the class system well i hope one day you people need help and your community turns their backs on you you bunch of complete and utter pr you work it out

hd shields says:

bonkers mad and sad thats all.

Anne says:

I watched the program featuring Mr. Wallace with complete amazement…. The hoard was not nearly as astonishing and incredible as the utter cruelty of some (actually most) citizens of Westcott. He is a member of the community, but was treated as though he was another life form. A mental illness should not be regarded as a communicable disease. He needed respect…kindness…and understanding. Few in Westcott (including the clergy) knew what respect, kindness and/or understanding meant. Shame on you. From the “other side of the pond” we send our prayers and thoughts to Mr. Wallace and all of those (Esp. the Landscaper) who came to a fellow human’s aid!!!

Prayers from Chicago

Nicola Louise says:

No one should underestimate the patience, hardwork and effort that Andy must have put in (and seems to be continuing) to help Richard gain control of his life again. I think your approach was spot on. Good work from you and your team and best wishes to Richard who is also working hard – keep it up sir!

rose ratcliffe says:

i watched this last night ..and found the initial ‘community ‘to be stuck up snobs with no regard for mr wallace
i was also dismayed that the hoarding counsellor said nothing to richard about where the hoarding behaviour might have come from ..loneliness , grief or perhaps a need to feel safe surrounded as he was womblike by things ..i cannot praise andy honey enough for his kind spirit and not giving up ..i hope that he has continued to clear up his house for his own self and for no-one else …so he does always have to struggle through the door top with his tray of boiled eggs !

Lorna Baynard says:

Now that is what makes me proud to be British. When people care about their neighbors like they used to. Mr. Richard Wallace is an amazing man, very intelligent & interesting person. I feel more for Richard being cut off from life, as I too know that feeling. His life revolved around his home. I feel that the hoarding problem was secondary to being cut off from everything & everyone. It might not of happened if there had been more Andy’s about in the beginning.
At first I thought Wescott Village as a whole, were a bunch of stuck up hypocrites. A bunch of heartless, know-it-alls. Until Andy came into the picture. He is one in a million, i am happy to know there still are wonderful, understanding people like him around. Then seeing some of the villagers, who still have hearts, come together & bring Richard back into the land of the living. Was it Richard that gave up on the village or the village that gave up on Richard in the beginning? Maybe a bit of both. It could have been avoided if people had cared when this first started to become a problem, instead of the malicious criticism. I feel the main factor was not so much the hoarding in Richard’s case but being cut off from life & people who cared. No one deserves to live so cut off from life like Richard had, I am so happy to see Richard is being shown that people do still care.
I also agree Andy deserves a medal for being ‘a true British neighbor’, God Bless you.
To the hypocrites of Westcott Village, if your noses weren’t so far in the air, you would see what true human kindness was, shame on you all.
To Andy & the others that helped & did it with good intentions, not just for the village, you have given me & many others hope.
Most of all Richard, I admire you, you wasn’t going to let a bunch of snobs beat you. You seem like a very kind & misunderstood person. You looked transformed, I hope your future is filled with happiness, stick to your principles, don’t change who you are because you are worth much more than you realize. I wish that I knew people like yourself, you are a very fascinating & straight forward person, also Andy and the GOOD village people. Keep up the good work. I really enjoyed the program and was compelled to write this after watching it on TV tonight. I would really like to know how Richard is doing now. You all make me proud to be a Brit.

ann dickinson says:

just watched the repeat of this programme – can only repeat most of the above comments – please please give us an update on Mr Wallace if not a follow up programme. Is it normal to be fanatical about the “village in bloom” or is it normal to hoard like Mr Wallace….somewhere in the middle there is life..

caroline says:

As he seems so anxious not to contribute to the throwaway society, maybe he could find it less stressful if the rubbish could be recycled and turned into something else. Though I do think deep down he has regrets about his life and the compulsive collection is symbolic of this. I hope he finds peace and a way forward.

Kate says:

Hmmm can’t see how this bunch of snooty people call themselves a community, the only decent person in the village seems to be the landscape gardener, Andy I think. I’ve only watched the first 20mins i wouldn’t want to live somewhere like that.

Caroline says:

I hope that the progress has continued for Richard. It was am amazing documentary, and fantastic to know that people like Andy exist!

mike says:

andy honey love fest